cigarette pack Don't take the EU referendum too literally.
To some it was a means to an end.
cigarette pack

It's amusing to watch politics in action. Our role in all this was to place a cross in one of two boxes marked on a piece of paper. That's all we did, however this time we seem to have ticked the wrong box and a lot of people are terribly upset about that.

We know there's a lot of hanky-panky in some counting rooms, so many voters chose to bring their own pens rather than risk the possibility that their crosses could be rubbed out and another cross inserted in the other box. Had we fallen for their trick of using the pencils they so thoughtfully provided at some polling stations.

No we don't trust them, nor their systems. Many of us have seen videos of what happened behind the scenes at some counting rooms during the Scottish referendum. Even if we've not seen them ourselves, many know of them through word of mouth, or social media. These things stick and that's why we play safe with our crosses and bits of paper.

There's been a lot of comment about postal votes. We know that in some households the patriarch dictates how the family will vote, frequently against the will of lesser family members. UKIP made several accusations along those lines following the Oldham West & Royton by-election (01). But that's not unique to Britain; they've found exactly the same phenomenon in Austria where they'll have to rerun their Presidential election because of "irregularities" with their postal votes (02)!

We in Scotland have had two referendum in the space of 21 months. Both were highly charged, divisive and emotional affairs - and there's still a simmering resentment amongst many on the losing side. That's why there's been a group of people camped outside Holyrood since 2014, with every intention of remaining until kicked out by a court order (03) or another independence referendum called.

So when our First Minister spoke, before the EU referendum, that she'd trigger another Scottish Independence referendum if the Scots voted to remain and the English did not, well that's exactly what our separatists wanted to hear - and they went for it in numbers. And as 44% of our lot voted to leave the Union in 2014, that's a pretty fair minority with their own agenda.

Not all SNP supporters or separatists want to change one ruler for another. Many of the hard line independence activists only want us to be free of Westminster and English rule. They too are firmly opposed to being dictated to by Brussels and a few know perfectly well that the EU would make us a net contributor, once we'd been forced to quit our numerous subsidies and pork barrel projects. In truth those who are pure of heart simply want Scotland to be an independent, non-aligned country with fishing, farming, oil, renewables, whiskey and IT as some of the prime drivers of a balanced economy, free of anything nuclear or seriously military.

Their logic is quite simple; first is to get out from under the yoke of the English, then demand another referendum to confirm if we really want to be in the EU, at which point the single minded separatist's will vote against membership of the EU!

However there's another problem: way back in 2012 the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has said it is "nearly impossible for independent Scotland to join the EU" (04). So not only would we have a tough job to join the EU, we'd also have to apply to join NATO. These are straight facts - and the EU Commission is far more concerned with any precedent established for Scotland then triggering similar deals with Catalonia and the Basque region, which is far more important than having Scotland in the EU - and why Spain and France would firmly oppose our joining... as well as the EU itself.

If I know this, so too does Ms. Sturgeon - and she's well aware that only 65% of voters turned out for the EU referendum, which is way down on the 85% who made the effort at the Scottish referendum. As 35% didn't care one way or another, that means only 40.5% of eligible voters actually voted to remain in the EU. Nope, Ms. Sturgeon really doesn't have the same support she had in 2014, so it's far from certain that she will win a second Scottish independence referendum, meaning she too will have to quit her post as First Minister.

In the unlikely event she does manage to get permission to run another independence referendum and this time manages to scrape a tiny majority to vote to leave the rest of the UK, it's very iffy that she'll get us to vote to join the EU, especially if the mandarins in Westminster negotiate acceptable terms for future relations with the EU. If they do, then it's far more likely our lot will try to seek a similar deal.

The Scottish vote at the EU referendum was skewed by the conflicting interests of the separatists - and I suspect the same scenario played in Northern Ireland. Well before the EU referendum Sinn Fein also stated that a remain vote might trigger a call for a United Ireland. And that's exactly what IRA supporters want to hear so, despite their revulsion of the EU, they too voted to remain in the hope they'd achieve their cherished goal of a reunited Ireland.

But it would be wrong to ignore the small but growing number of people who absolutely loathe all political constructs. To them it's about shrinking government, slashing red tape, getting shot of "advocates" as well as pressure groups and empowering the individual.

For these people our departure from the EU means a lot more than just getting rid of 73 MEPs together with their support staff and expenses. No more frustration about the cost of the monthly game of musical chairs between Brussels and Strasbourg (05), nor their overpriced “Central Bank” (06), to name only a few of the excesses that is the EU.

Comparatively it has taken very little time to undermine support for the EU, yet there are so many more things that need fixing or shut down within the UK, one being our politicians propensity to act so generously with our taxes to donate to "overseas aid". Thankfully by sheer weight of numbers and a great deal of help from the idiots in charge of our most parasitic charities, support for charities is evaporating (07).

The hacked-off may be few in number, but they can make a difference. We know perfectly well that politicians only call for a referendum if they think they'll win. In both cases the people behind the referendum got it horribly wrong, in part because they're so far out of touch with the electorate, but also because it allows people to look at the bigger picture - and that's far broader and more encompassing than the narrow view of politicians.

Two examples stick. The first was when the Swiss voted by a whopping 4 to 1 to continue offering assisted suicide to non-residents (08). There was nothing in this for the Swiss themselves. They weren't in the least impressed by claims that Switzerland might be known for "tourist suicide", or that any form of assisted suicide is morally unjustified. No Sir, they rejected calls to ban assisted suicide for Swiss nationals, then voted to defeat the healthists in what was a straightforward, thoughtful and compassionate response based on "do unto others".

The second was also from Switzerland where voters in some cantons voted by 70% to reject proposals to ban smoking rooms (though Geneva did by a 2% margin) (09). Nowhere near 70% of the Swiss people smoke, so yes there was an element of "resentment at perceived state interference in people's lives" - a sentiment that's close to universal - and one that politicians, pressure groups and fake charities mess around with at their peril.

Looking at the final tally of our referendum, 51.9% wanting to leave the EU and 48.1% wanting to remain, I suspect the true figure is closer to 56% wanting to get out and only 44% genuinely wanting to remain in the EU.

There's an interesting similarity here. I know for a fact that a bunch of people voted for UKIP for no other reason than their promise of indoor smoking rooms. By and large they were ambivalent about leaving the EU, yet their support for UKIP - and its threat to the Tory party - resulted in this referendum being called.

For this a part of the credit must go to tobacco control, the fake charities that called for the smoking ban - and the politicians who passed it into law, then went along with increasing taxes on tobacco products and to condone the general air of hostility toward smokers. They've created something that's impossible to pin down and difficult to describe, so let's just say we see the UK from the vantage of being on the outside looking in. We're far less likely to be respectful of politicians or organisations that support the smoking bans and, because we have no stake in large swathes of British life, are less likely to wish to see them maintained. And it's not just a handful of seriously irate smokers, it includes many who lost their business or jobs because of these bans and every corner shop that's had to lay out big money to hide their tobacco displays - and that's an awful lot of people.

Tobacco Control really are re-shaping the world, just not quite the way our politicians - here or in Brussels - expected.
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Smoking Scot
August 2016

30 Jul 16. Latest opinion poll shows 53% of Scots still favour remaining in the UK, even if we leave the EU - and a majority favour remaining in the UK even if we quit the single market (10). And even more amusing, only one person in Scottish politics seems to be talking sense; Ruth Davidson, Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party!